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paper - Carlos Rodriguez Prof Newcity Mafia The New Party...

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Carlos Rodriguez Prof. Newcity May 04, 2007 Mafia: The New Party? The lack of powerful, uncorrupt government agencies in place after the fall of the Soviet Union has allowed criminal organizations to gain a strong foothold on the newly privatized economies of the former Soviet states. Although these organizations have taken advantage of this unregulated sector of the economy by engaging in so called ‘legal’ business activity, their ruthless business tactics and notorious involvement in prostitution and drugs and arms trafficking remain the source of their empowerment. With access to lucrative profits from their corrupt practices, and with newfound legal freedom to explore various money-laundering enterprises, these groups have managed to penetrate deep into the pockets of government officials who are often forced to seek alternative income sources due to the lack of legitimate funding in the new states. Most interestingly, however, is that many of the mafias’ leaders are former elite members of the Communist Party that have used their vast and powerful reservoir of allies developed during the Soviet years as a catapult to obtain a lead on the privatization market. This paper analyzes the twisted new matrimony between organized crime and ‘democratic’ governments in Eastern Europe and Russia by exploring the causes as well as the economic, political, and social effects this marriage has had on the various transitional countries. “Is life in general better or worse now than under communism?” is the question that Janice Bell posed in her book, The Political Economy of Reform in Post-Communist Poland . Her groundbreaking study compared the answers between a survey conducted in 1
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1992 and 1999 in six Eastern European countries. In both years and in all six countries, the majority of those surveyed favored communism; only in Poland was there greater optimism in 1999 than in 1992. In the Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia there was more than a 10% increase of those who preferred communism, and in Hungary, the numbers remained the same (Heyns 165). The primary reasons for wanting to revert to communism were justly founded on the economic instability of the entire region. Inflation on already high prices along with a steady increase in unemployment created an era of stagflation that lowered the living standards of the majority of the population. Although the initial disparity between the rich and poor was expected, the length of the period, which extended beyond five years after the collapse, was simply too long. After 1996, it was to be expected that most ordinary citizens would begin to feel nostalgic (Eichengreen 28). At the same time, it is important to note the enormous generational difference in opinion from those that grew up under communism for the majority of their lives and those who were raised near and after the collapse. Although this particular survey fails to indicate the divide between the older and younger generations, there is strong evidence
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